FRISCO, Texas – It's already established that Jaylon Smith won't be part of the Cowboys' playoff run – though he thinks he could have been.
The rookie linebacker spoke to reporters at length on Thursday morning, updating his recovery for the first time since he was placed on injured reserve toward the tail end of the season.
"I've accepted the reality I won't be playing this year," he said. "I've come to terms with it. I understand God has a plan. Just having patience. I've been thankful to be on this team and to watch my guys go out there and ball. I support and learn anyway I can."
Frustrating as it might be, Smith said he's seen remarkable progress in his return from injury during the 2016 season. It's been a year since he tore both his ACL and LCL in his final college game. Smith said he's fully recovered from those injuries, evidenced by the fact that he said he recently ran a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash.
As has been the case all year, it's Smith's oft-discussed peroneal nerve damage that prompts the most conversation. The regeneration of that nerve, which was damaged during the same injury, has been the central talking point of Smith's recover – and he even had good news to report on that front.
"Yeah, it's regenerating," he said. "It's just a thing that you have to have patience. I'm going to continue to do everything I'm asked and controlling what I can control and we're going to take our time with it."
That's got to be seen as a positive for the Cowboys, who gambled that the highly-talented linebacker could regain his old form in time. Smith won't be available for the playoffs, but there's boundless optimism he might see a football field some time in 2017.